Another star cyclist accuses national coach RK Sharma for sexual harassment

New Delhi: 

After a star cyclist from India accused national coach RK Sharma for sexual harassment, another top Indian cyclist has come forward alleging that he assaulted her.

Former Indian cycling star Deborah Herold has complained against coach RK Sharma, who has been dismissed after the allegations, and said that he “slapped” her twice, “harassed” her for years, and eventually left her out of the team in 2018 despite being country’s fasters cyclist in certain categories. 

Deborah has lodged complaints against ex-coach Sharma and the team’s assistant Gautamani Devi. 

“She (Devi) thought I was in a relationship with another female cyclist, and harassed me a lot. She taunted, ignored and isolated me from the rest of the cyclists. Eventually, I was removed from the national camp. In truth, there was nothing like it… we are just good friends,” said Herold in an interview with Indian Express.

Herold shared further that she was singled out every day and insulted in front of other people even when she made no mistakes.

“The assistant coach and the chief coach harassed us mentally. It affected me so much that I started losing weight because I couldn’t eat properly… I was pulled up if I spoke with any teammate, male or female. If I bumped into someone in the dining room, I would be shouted at. It reached a stage where, on some days, I started eating (alone) in my hostel room. I was singled out and harassed for no fault of mine,” she added.

In an Indian Express report, team assistant Devi did not deny the allegations made by Deborah and said that she did what federation asked her to do. 

 “I did what the federation told me to do. These are all old issues that are resurfacing now, I was acting in the best interest of the country,” she said.

When asked about why Herold was removed from the team, Devi said, “This wasn’t in my hands. Who am I? Just a coach who works under the federation…Nothing is in my hands. I do what the federation tells me. These are all old issues, who said what…No rider should blame anyone like this. An athlete likes a coach if we agree with them. The moment we scold them, we become their enemies. That’s why Indian athletes do not succeed. Only those who listen to the coach win medals at the Olympics.”

Deborah is not the only one who has come up with fresh allegations against Sharma. Two other national team members have communicated with SAI’s internal committee and they are hearing the sexual assault charges. 


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